Generic drugs to bve available through public health system: Azad

The government is committed to providing affordable health care for all and would make available free generic drugs at all public health facilities, minister for health and family welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said today.

He said the government, under the 12th Plan, would strive to reduce social inequities not only in the health care system but in other sectors as well.

''Moving forward in the direction of reducing inequities requires actions not only within the health sector but also across other sectors,'' the minister said while inaugurating the National Consultation on Social Determinants of Health in New Delhi today.

''If it means investing more for the poorer segments of society, we shall do it; if it means challenging the biases against the marginalised segments of society, we shall do it; if it means ensuring better integration of different development programmes, we shall do it; and if it means reducing out of pocket expenditure on healthcare for the people who cannot afford it, we shall do it'', Azad said.

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow up, work and age, including the health system. The Commission on Social Determinants of Health has outlined that unequal distribution of health damaging experiences are perpetuated by a combination of poor social policies and programmes and unfair economic arrangements, globally and nationally, the minister said.

Social determinants of health such as poor economic status, lower social status, unemployment, under-nutrition, unhealthy environment and poor access to health system contribute significantly to premature deaths and diseases, particularly among vulnerable groups such as women, children and minority groups. It is thus vital to help build a sustainable national movement for action on health equity and social determinants, linking governments, international organisations, research institutions, civil society and communities. Today's national consultation on the social determinants of health is an effort in this direction and an attempt to connect all the dots for a comprehensive perspective of health, he added.